More than 5,000 hostages were liberated from Boko Haram controlled territories in northeastern Nigeria on Sunday June 26th. The operation, composed of Nigerian army soldiers with support from members of a local grassroots security force, took place across fifteen remote villages in the northeast of Borno State. Four villages, Maiwa, Algaiti, Zangebe and Mainari were evacuated, the Nigerian army reported in a statement.
Six Boko Haram insurgents were allegedly killed in the raids, as well as one civilian. Al Jazeera reports that the 5,000 individuals that were rescued, most of whom are women and children, had spent the last six years living under Boko Haram since the armed militant group launched their campaign in 2009.
Nigerian army colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman told Al Jazeera, “Our troops have decisively dealt with the Boko Haram terrorists, particularly hibernating in Sambisa forest, which used to be their stronghold.” The Nigerian Defense Headquarters wrote last week that Boko Haram has recently swapped out its typically aggressive tactics and is currently lying low in order to avoid detection, deploying insurgents disguised as hunters and vigilantes to hit soft targets in smaller scale suicide attacks. This follows an attack on June 4th in which 32 soldier from Niger and Nigeria were killed after Boko Haram launched an assault on a military post in Bosso.
Last year, after President Muhammadu Buhari took office, Nigeria escalated its fight against Boko Haram, forcing a spill over of violence in to neighbouring Chad, Cameroon and Niger. As a result, there has been increased cooperation between these nations, working together to quell the terrorist group. The US and France are also providing assistance, providing intelligence and drones in addition to 3,000 plus French soldiers who have been deployed to fight militants.
Aid has also been provided by the United Nations, who on Monday announced the release of $13 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) towards the provision of humanitarian assistance for victims of the Boko Haram insurgency in northeastern Nigeria. The UN reported that in addition to helping replace crops and livestock that have been destroyed and looted by Boko Haram, seeds and tools will be provided for more that 50,000 people to assist in the upcoming planting season. Additionally, the CERF funds will, “enable humanitarian partners to provide critical psychosocial support and protection services [to the] significant number of women, girls, men and boys [who] have suffered or witnessed terrible abuses”, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian affairs wrote.
CERF has allocated over $70 million to provide assistance to victims of Boko Haram since 2015, with the most recent $13 million accompanied by an appeal of urgency. “Unless we scale up now, 7 to 8 children will die of severe acute malnutrition every hours, 184 children will die every day. We need resources now to scale up our current response”, announced Munir Safieldin, acting Humanitarian Coordinator for the UN. He also disclosed that approximately 15 million people have been affected by the current insurgency, 7 million of whom require immediate assistance.
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